Critics’ Picks

View of “Sophie Nys,” 2019–20, Galerie Greta Meert, Brussels. From left: Two revolutions a day, 2019; Kellerloch (Roter Mainsandstein) (Kellerloch [Red Main Sandstone]), 2019.

View of “Sophie Nys,” 2019–20, Galerie Greta Meert, Brussels. From left: Two revolutions a day, 2019; Kellerloch (Roter Mainsandstein) (Kellerloch [Red Main Sandstone]), 2019.

Brussels

Sophie Nys

Galerie Greta Meert
Rue du Canal 13
November 7, 2019–January 18, 2020

Much of Sophie Nys’s work deals with the relationship between domestic and political space; her practice is often associated with a Germanic literary imaginary that, though slightly out-of-date, she uses as a tool to comment on contemporary life. Nys focuses, in particular, on the metaphysic and folkloric sides of said imaginary, exploring the positions that both the bourgeois and the intellectual may occupy in time of crisis. Her current exhibition, “Etui of the private individual,” is a rigorous reflection on political lethargy no less relevant to the collective than to the individual.

In her highly conceptual and minimalist works, Nys utilizes objects that are part industrial and part artisanal, as well as images, text, and film. Her art’s sparseness produces an ambiguous atmosphere in which meaning emerges slowly but surely. Two revolutions a day, all works 2019—a suite of twelve temporally coordinated identical clocks, each made in Switzerland and then altered by the artist—suggests a loose consensus of the sort governments create when pulled in contradictory directions. By eschewing the differentiation provided by time zones, the clocks, all ticking in unison, could represent a sudden awareness of common international concerns. The small sculpture Kellerloch (Roter Mainsandstein) (Kellerloch [Red Main Sandstone]) evokes an isolation cell as much as it does a peaceful hearth. The metallic structure, meant to hold firewood, transmits its own angst: the home, no longer safe, becomes a place where the mind closes in on itself. Indeed, each piece incites two feelings at once—reassurance and worry—replicating an ethical oscillation familiar to humans, though ignored by the mainstream media in favor of simple black-and-white narratives. Nys’s literary counterpart might be Thomas Bernhard, a prodigious analyst of the ruminant thought, of the human mind confronted with moral challenges.